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First-year York Comprehensive High School head boys basketball coach Larry Dixon has a proven formula that he feels dictates failure when the game is on the line: bad shot equals turnover.
Such was the case Friday, as the home-standing Cougars were clinging to a precarious 31-30 lead to start the fourth quarter against visiting Northwestern.
Suddenly, the Cougars experienced a scoring drought and the Trojans gained the advantage down the stretch to win, 48-37.
“Northwestern made its run when we began taking bad shots,” Dixon said after the game. “ For three quarters, we got good looks and were patient, but began forcing bad shots.
“What many do not realize is that a bad shot is like a turnover. They got the rebound and scored on the break at the other end.”
Dixon said the Cougars were able to play at their own pace for much of the game, which was the game plan against the Trojans.
“Northwestern has a lot of quickness,” Dixon said of the transition-minded Trojans.
The Cougars played as their coach prescribed in the closely-contested first three quarters.
The home-standing YCHS boys built a 5-0 lead when Markell Castle drilled a 3-pointer in the early moments of the first quarter.
But the Trojans went on a 10-point run to move ahead, 10-5.
A pair of free throws by senior mainstay Kaiyon Schrouder sliced the lead to three and DeShaw Andrews’ shot from the charity stripe mad the score 10-8 as the buzzer sounded ending the first quarter.
The soft shooting Andrews, the team’s leading scorer for the season, nailed a 3-pointer to start the second quarter, knotting the score at 10-all.
Sophomore point guard Daurice Simpson’s basket pushed the Cougars ahead 12-10.
Andrews followed with a steal and two points on the other end and the Cougars were up 14-10.
After the Trojans tied the score at 14-all, it was more of the same for the Cougars’ offensive production.
The fleet-footed Simpson drove the lane for a score and Andrews followed with a basket as the Cougars regained a four-point advantage at 18-14.
The Trojans answered in the waning moments of the first half but the Cougars held on to lead 18-17 at halftime.
The cross county rivals played dead even in the third quarter, trading baskets along the way as the Cougars led by a single point (31-30) to open fourth quarter play.
“We just were not patient enough offensively in the fourth quarter,” observed Dixon. “We have a young team and youth will lead to putting up bad shots.”
Andrews paced the scoring for the Cougars with 15 points. Simpson also scored in double figures with 11 points. Both are sophomores with senior-worthy contributions to the team.
Rounding out the scoring, Schrouder had 8 points and Castle finished with 3.
Dixon believes there’s light at the end of the tunnel despite several near misses this season.
“We have young players still learning what to do,” he noted. “We will continue to work hard and will play better.”
Dixon, a former assistant at Winthrop University and coach of the year while coaching high school basketball in Mecklenburg County, knows a thing or two about playing in competitive regions.
“I seem to always find a job coaching in tough regions,” the YCHS coach said with a grin. “This is a tough region.”
Reminded that Friday’s game with rival Clover will attract the largest home crowd of the year, Dixon lauded the Blue Eagles.
“Clover is a good basketball team,” he said.
The Cougars played the Blue Eagles a tight game in a December tournament at Clover.
“We look forward to the big crowd,” assured Dixon. “This type of atmosphere is what high school basketball is all about.”